Against Feasibility Analysis
61 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2009 Last revised: 25 Jan 2011
Date Written: August 10, 2009
Feasibility analysis, a method of evaluating government regulations, has emerged as the major alternative to cost-benefit analysis. Although regulatory agencies have used feasibility analysis (in some contexts called “technology-based” analysis) longer than cost-benefit analysis, feasibility analysis has received far less attention in the scholarly literature. In recent years, however, critics of cost-benefit analysis have offered feasibility analysis as a superior alternative. We advance the debate by uncovering the analytic structure of feasibility analysis and its normative premises, and then criticizing them. Our account builds on two examples of feasibility analysis, one conducted by OSHA and the other by EPA. We find that feasibility analysis leads to both under- and overregulation, and we conclude that it lacks a normative justification and is unsuitable for government regulation.
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By Eric Posner